Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.
What does it really mean to be like Batman?
Not the part about punching crime in the face while dressed up as a giant bat. But the core values and characteristics that guide Batman in his war on crime. What can we learn from this fictional character, what real world inspiration can we learn from his example, and what part of our own greater potential as human beings can we embody through the example of Batman?
To be Batman means the constant training of mind and body. The disciplines of meditation, weight lifting, and gymnastics require a certain type of focus. An ability to narrow stimuli from the world around us and concentrate only on the task at hand, what is right in front of you.
From a survival point of view, these kinds of training are stupid non-essential activities. They require a trust that nobody will attack you while you perform them. They require concentration that means shutting out the external signals around you, or if not all signals, at least narrowing your attention to a much smaller amount of total sense data.
The Batman embodies such values as physical discipline of his body through rigorous systematic training. The lessons learned through physical training include respecting the limits of your body and when to go beyond them.
Systematic training means applying our intelligence creatively. Studying sound scientific principles on ergonomics, body mechanics, how muscle tissue is stimulated to grow through progressive overload, getting adequate nutrition and rest to allow for full recovery and growth of muscle, tendons, bones etc.
Physical discipline often means getting up at odd hours to train, at times we may feel uncomfortable, and we may find this routine downright unpleasant. However there is a very real sense of satisfaction when you keep your body fit and well through regular exercise and healthy eating habits. There is a joy in sculpting your body to the proportions you prefer, rather than just settling for what nature gave you.
The Batman cultivates an attitude of never giving up, no matter the odds, no matter how desperate the situation. Imprisoned in some ridiculously hopeless situation, a deadly death trap or poisoned yet again by one of his rogues gallery, rather than going to pieces he relies on his mental training. Batman relies on his mind to provide him with the answers he needs, and is highly adaptable in any situation. He may fail in the short term, be captured, beaten, broken etc. But he uses each defeat strategically to give himself more data and feedback for future scenarios.
“Our routine, known thoughts and feelings perpetuate the same state of being, which creates the same behaviors, and creates the same reality. So if we want to change some aspect of our reality, we have to think, feel, and act in new ways; we have to “be” different in terms of our responses to experiences. We have to “become” someone else. We have to create a new state of mind … we need to observe a new outcome with that new mind.”
Like firemen, police and the military, it is crucial for in dangerous situations for Batman not to go to pieces, not to panic and render himself helpless and useless. This is most easily accomplished by training, specifically in as realistic as possible scenarios that allow the trainee to condition their response to stress and high levels of danger.
The trainee becomes the calm in the eye of the storm, the unshakable rock in an earthquake. While we may not want to go to the lengths Batman does, we can challenge ourselves by moving outside of our comfort zone on a semi-regular basis.
We can condition ourselves to remain calm in any situation through role plays, practicing our skills under stressful situations and meditation. Combining meditation with real world role-play type scenarios is a powerful one-two combo to the face the fear, doubt and insecurity. Being a master of one’s own senses means not being a slave to every impulse that comes along. It means when we experience genuine danger (no matter the degree) we don’t go to pieces and panic.
It means when we get adrenaline and nor-adrenaline dumped into our body during the fight or flight response that we move, we act, rather than freezing like a deer in headlights while life steam rolls right over us without mercy.
While we can not just turn off our fight or flight response – our body responds directly to danger, whether real or perceived, independent of our thoughts or emotions – we can condition ourselves so that when we are in that state, we slow down our thoughts, choose our actions consciously rather than unconsciously. We can direct our body to do what we want it to, even under extremely dangerous and stressful environments.
Habitual meditators enjoy the benefits of improved memory, cognition, emotional balance, lowered blood pressure without medication, they age more slowly, sleep better, enjoy improved performance in athletic activities and dozens more documented benefits with enough scientific papers to build your own life size paper-mache Batcave.
“He doesn’t have any superpowers except for his extraordinary capacity for self-discipline”
-Christopher Nolan, director of the Dark Knight Trilogy
The natural thing to do in a burning building is get the hell out. Yet fireman enter burning buildings as part of their job. Police pursue dangerous criminals, rather than run away from them. Batman jumps into a circle of armed maniacs rather than taking a night off to play the newest Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed.
Being Batman (or like Batman) means saying no to goofing off, eating crap and missing heavy squats at the gym. To be like Batman means developing an IRON-WILL.
To be like Batman means conditioning your body to the best of your ability through multiple methods of training. Having a razor sharp mind honed through meditation, contemplation, analysis, and detective work, using intellect and intuition in equal measure. Being like Batman means learning from mentors and trainers who are smarter and better than you, who have the real world skills you want to learn, whatever that may be.
What practical step can we take to be more like Batman? Here are some Action Steps to be like Batman:
CONDITION YOUR BODY TO MOVE
Perform physical training that is useful in how it applies to the real world, and not just in a gym or sport. We all need to be able to squat, pick something up from the floor, stand up and lift the object over our heads. These are some of the most basic movements in life. It requires mobility and functional strength in the hips and pelvis, upper and lower spine, shoulders, knees, ankles and elbows. Add in movements like crawling, walking, pushing and pulling, holding, jumping and running, and you have covered most ranges of motion.
Now do everything in reverse, and you have covered even more ranges of motion, and worked your muscles out in a new way. Don’t have money for a gym membership? Go for walks outside. But a sack of potatoes or another heavy awkward object and take it to the park or your back yard and practice lifting it in different ways. Pre-industrial cultures typically carried their young children around on their back or front for several hours a day.
Modern people push kids in strollers and don’t develop strength endurance from carrying objects over long distances. By relying on convenience and luxury our bodies get little to no exercise and then we complain when they fall apart and we get sick often.
“If you want to change, you must have in your thoughts an idealized self—a model that you can emulate, which is different from, and better than, the
“you” that exists today in your particular environment, body, and time.”
-Joe Dispenza, author of “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One”
SEEK OUT MENTORS
Seek out mentors, guides and teachers, learn from them all you can, then move on to find more mentors who can deepen your skills or learn entirely new fields of knowledge. This is your Tony Robbins 101 right here. We seek out people in life who are already successful at whatever we want to do. A good mentor is someone we can consciously model. We model not just what they teach us, but learn other useful habits and skills that are often communicated non-verbally.
Meditate to keep your mind sharp, body relaxed, and reduce the effect of stress on the body. This means aiming to change your state from Beta brain waves to Alpha brain waves. And for your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) located in your spine to move the bodies state from emphasis on the Sympathetic Nervous System to Para-sympathetic Nervous System – from arousal, action and exercise to relaxation, meditation and sleep.
The more we condition our mind/body through the breath, meditation, mental training and exercise, the easier is is to transition from one state to another effortlessly. To be in a state of arousal when we want to sleep is not helpful, neither is being sleepy or overly relaxed when we need to go for a run or drive a car or pay attention at work. With practice, we create what NLP refers to as an “anchor”, basically a shortcut to any mental state we want to be in.
We rewire the circuitry of our brain through repetition allowing us to move into whatever state we choose, in a short frame of time. Be it going to sleep, or priming our nervous system before lifting a heavy weight, any state that requires concentration, alertness, extreme focus or extreme relaxation, we can get there faster through the conditioning of repetition
There is a principle in neuroscience called Hebb’s law. It basically states that “nerve cells that fire together, wire together.” Hebb’s credo demonstrates that if you repeatedly activate the same nerve cells, then each time they turn on, it will be easier for them to fire in unison again. Eventually those neurons will develop a long-term relationship.
-Joe Dispenza, “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”
DEDICATE YOURSELF TO A CAUSE
No man (or woman) succeeds beyond the cause he devotes himself to. You don’t have to be Mother Theresa to make a difference in the world. While giving to charities may ease your social conscience, it it just not the same as volunteering in your community, getting your hands dirty and meeting people. Dedicating yourself to a cause is a highly personal thing, and nobody can choose it for you, or coerce you into taking up a cause in the first place.
Batman is devoted to his War on Crime. But he is also devoted to philanthropy, developing the community in Gotham through backing charities, trusts and funds. He takes an active hand in visiting orphanages, knowing the pain of being an orphan himself. He actively looks for community projects to be involved in, not just as an anonymous old man money bags, but as an individual keenly interested in every stage of a project, from concept to practical implementation.
DEVELOP AN IRON-WILL
Jack Lalanne the famous exercise and health guru performed many amazing feats of strength and endurance in his lifetime. But some of the most important things he did were to eat real food, get some exercise every day and set himself new challenges to conquer. Just as important was his attitude to life and exercise, the way he kept a smile on his face and a positive attitude contributed to his longevity. His feats of strength and endurance forged an IRON-WILL that the Batman would be proud of:
I do it as a therapy. I do it as something to keep me alive. We all need a little discipline. Exercise is my discipline. – Jack Lalanne
We don’t all have to be Conan or Xena or Batman or Jack Lalanne to be fit and in good health. Walking, swimming, or riding a bike are all fine exercises. But if you want to be like Batman, it means going the extra mile, going beyond mere fitness to peak conditioning. This can be a pursuit in itself, or a complement to a particular sport or other form of training like martial arts, wrestling or MMA.
But just as important, if not more important than physical conditioning is having an iron will and a determined can-do attitude. Many an athlete or martial artist was let down by their own lousy attitude. A weak will means never challenging yourself in life and letting mediocrity creep in to every part of your being. It means living a shallow unsatisfying life. When I think of an IRON-WILL I think of Louis Zamperini, the real life war hero who was the basis of the movie “Unbroken”.
An IRON-WILL is not just for Batman. Developing an IRON-WILL is working out your mental muscle, and is for every day people, students, wives, husbands, brothers and sisters, boyfriends and girlfriends. Developing an IRON-WILL is not about being a hard ass, it is about saying “YES!” to life and doing whatever you need to get done, even when you don’t want to do it. Especially when you don’t want to do it.
You get off your ass and you act, you go about your day with purpose, drive and determination. And when things don’t go your way, you don’t bitch and moan about it, you simply put any negative experiences behind you and move on, focusing on the task at hand, and refocus on what your next achievement will be. That’s how Batman does it, he doesn’t have time to indulge in complaining about the past, and neither do you.